Why you'll love this course

A lot of ethics courses keep the discussion at a surface level. This one is different. It's taught at an advanced level, and is meant to challenge assumptions you may have about when and why telling lies to clients may be justified.

Course Description

No therapist is fully honest and transparent with their clients. Nor should we be. Clients typically do not benefit from knowing the first moment we suspect they may have a personality disorder or other serious pathology. We typically don't want clients to know about any countertransference reactions we may have to them. And many therapists will eagerly lie to clients when we believe it necessary to protect their safety or the safety of others. If we accept all of these as not just true but in the interest of good client care, a conversation can open about *when* to be honest and transparent with clients, when to simply stay silent, and when it may be beneficial to lie. 

In this advanced workshop, we'll have that conversation. We review ethical standards related to truth in therapy, their links to common moral and philosophical stances, policies that therapists adopt around secrets in couple and family work, and a number of case examples that cut directly to the limits of our desire and intention to be honest with clients.

2 Hours CE. Video Format.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Articulate their own moral stance on when lying to clients may be necessary or appropriate

  • Weigh the value they place on honesty against the value they place on other general ethical principles

  • Defend their chosen policy on holding individual secrets in couple or family therapy

Course Outline

  1. Introduction: The lies we already tell
  2. Ethical principles and standards
  3. Secrets in Couple, Family, and Group Work
  4. Situations where lying might be the best option
  5. Case examples
  6. Repairing


Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD

Education Director, SimplePractice Learning

Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (#42723). He currently serves as adjunct faculty for California State University Northridge in Los Angeles. He has taught at the graduate level for more than 15 years, primarily in Law and Ethics, and has written and trained extensively on ethical applications in mental health care. In addition to serving a three-year term on the AAMFT Ethics Committee, Dr. Caldwell served as the Chair of the Legislative and Advocacy Committee for AAMFT-California for 10 years. He served as Editor for the Users Guide to the 2015 AAMFT Code of Ethics and is the author of several books, including Saving Psychotherapy and Basics of California Law for LMFTs, LPCCs, and LCSWs.

Additional Information

Format & Length:

Video format; Total running time 2 hours, 4 minutes

Topic Area:

Law and Ethics

Instructional Level:


Completion Requirements:

To obtain your CE certificate, you must progress through all course segments, complete a satisfaction survey, and obtain a score of 80% or higher on a course completion quiz.

Who Should Attend:

Counselors, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists.

Financial Support Statement:

SimplePractice Learning pays course presenters for their teaching. There is no other financial support for this course.

Conflict of Interest Statement:

There is no potential conflict of interest or outside commercial support for this course.

Refund Policy:

Click here to see our policies on attendance, refunds, grievances, and accessibility, and other frequently asked questions

NAADAC Approval Status:

This course is not part of our continuing education program approved through NAADAC. Click here to view our complete CE approval information, or check out our collection of NAADAC approved courses